Plea to ban repetitive Rotherham protests rejected by Home Office

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Media caption,

The Home Office said it had no plan to change the law regarding protests

Attempts to ban repeated marches by far right groups in Rotherham have been rejected by the Home Office.

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner wanted a change in the law to ban marches on grounds including frequency, cost and community impact.

Since 2012, 16 protests have been held, the majority organized by far right groups such as the EDL and Britain First, at a cost of £4m.

The Home Office said it had no current plans to change the law.

The panel's request was raised in a report sent to the Home Office in November 2015.

To date the only response received is a letter acknowledging receipt of the report stating the Home Office will "use the information as part of our ongoing monitoring of public order powers".

'Under the cosh'

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said the he was "sorry" the Home Office did not accept the panel's recommendations.

He said an application to ban a march would only have been sought in "very particular circumstances".

"We accept that people have a right to protest [but] on the other hand there's something cynical about the way these people in Rotherham, the far right, keep coming month after month same issues, making no progress, costing us a lot of money, disrupting business in the town centre, upsetting communities," he said.

Image caption,
There have been 16 protests in Rotherham since October 2012

"When you get a town like Rotherham which is under the cosh time after time there surely has to be some other way of dealing with it.

"So we said could we have the right to ban them and the Home Office have clearly said no."

A planned protest by members of the EDL is due to take place on 25 February.

March organiser Ian Crossland told BBC Radio Sheffield: "We're not doing it for our benefit, we are doing it to highlight the situation [of Children Sexual Abuse in Rotherham].

"I apologise if [businesses] are losing money but I've arranged this march to completely avoid Rotherham town centre."

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